Power steering is a convenience that a lot of us love. While you may find it hard to believe, quite a few of our beloved classic Mopars came with power steering from the factory. Some though, were optioned with manual steering. While some prefer manual steering, most of us like to not fight with the steering wheel while trying to parallel park or park in a tight car show spot. Power steering is generally better than manual steering in most ways.
Many will argue that it’s a lot more comfortable to use in day to day driving and as mentioned, a heck of a lot easier when parking. If you haven’t tried to park a classic heavy B-body with manual steering, it’s not fun. Trust us. Unless you have the power of the Incredible Hulk in your arms, you’ll want power steering. Saying your arms will get a work out is an understatement. However, it may save you some money on that gym membership! Besides that, the steering response is a lot better in most cases too.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are quite a few people that prefer manual steering because it’s just plain simple. With a lot of big block engines, space can be tight in the engine bay, especially when running headers and sometimes; the power steering box has a tendency to being right in the way. Power steering also draws off the engine. For those drag racers that want high power and want to go strictly in a straight line, usually the power steering system is the first thing tossed from the car. With manual steering, it leaves a lot more room in the engine bay and generally cleans it up with the lack of additional plumbing needed for a power steering setup. Also gone are the days of puking power steering all over the race track due to a broken line or un-happy pump. That’s never fun to clean up.
Silver Sport Transmissions has recently announced a new product in their catalog line-up that we personally feel will pick up steam very quickly in the Mopar world. Already gaining a lot of interest in the Ford and GM markets, the EPAS Performance Electric Power Steering Kit is something you’ll find yourself wanting like us. With their kit, it basically eliminates that old steering system in your classic Mopar. Not only does it free up space in the engine bay but also gives you the high performance feel you want.
Lately, a lot of auto manufacturers have chosen to switch to electric steering. Not only have they found that electric steering is more responsive but it even helps bump up MPGs too. Even most of Dodge’s high performance SRT products are running electric steering systems now so why shouldn’t your classic Mopar have it too? With EPAS Performance’s kit, you no longer have to hunt junkyards trying to find that elusive power steering bracket or hose fitting.
“Our business is about making these classic Mopars fun to drive. Getting them out of the garage or off the trailer and on the road is what we love to see” says Jack Silver, CEO of Silver Sport Transmissions. He continues to say, “Many of the classics came without accessories like power steering and air conditioning because they robbed the engine of power. In addition, the power steering pump and associated equipment take up extra space under the hood and it is prone to leaks. You could get by without power steering when these cars were new because the tires were a lot narrower than today. But now, people want to make their cars perform better. They have wider profile tires and suspensions which make them grip the road. This makes better steering systems much more important. We are very excited to be able to provide this fine product to our customers.”
Totally built and designed in the U.S, the EPAS system is designed to fit in the classic Mopar A, B and E bodies without much modification. No major or irreversible modifications are made to your Mopar and once installed, you won’t even be able to tell it’s there as the electric motor tucks nicely under your dashboard. It’s almost, if not completely invisible! EPAS Performance’s awesome new system has many benefits. It will not rob power from the engine as since it’s 100% electric, your alternator is your pump! In the rare worst case event that you lose electrical power, you will still have full steering control as it automatically puts the steering back to manual mode.
It will not take up room under the hood like older power steering systems do, giving you more room to run headers and other parts like that. No more large pumps, hoses or brackets hogging up room in your engine bay! Being as its totally electric, you no longer have to worry about buying power steering fluid or that common power steering sweat/leak on your garage floor every night. Their electric power steering systems can handle anything you throw at them with no leaks, no squeaks and no hesitation in fast cornering. The system is perfect for leisurely drives to fast paced autocross and everything in between.
The computer measures the amount of effort on the steering wheel and amplifies it with the aid of the electric motor. EPAS Performance offers three different versions of the kit, each offering different amperage depending on the weight of the vehicle; the first being a 45 amp kit for vehicles weighing up to 4,000 lbs. After that comes a 60 amp kit that will apply to most, if not all classic vehicles including Mopars. They also offer an 80 amp kit but that’s only for certain racing applications. A potentiometer allows you to have more or less assistance, so you can adjust the amount of power assist needed.
For example, you can have maximal power assist on a parking lot, and less on the highway. Geoff Mason of EPAS Performance says, “On early Mopar vehicles, the assistance was extremely light and sometimes dangerous. Our electric unit can be adjusted by the driver on the fly, and when it is set it will stay that way whether you are doing 10mph or 150mph with no RPM pressure fluctuation. With no more pumps or hoses this system will allow you to remove all the old components without worry.”
We will warn you; the installation of this kit does require some cutting, including cutting and splicing of your factory steering column. While they do say it’s best that the kit be installed by a professional mechanic or shop, it can be installed by a knowledgeable do-it-yourself type in their garage in roughly 10 hours total. It is also quite critical that you read every step in the instructions. One mistake could create some pretty serious problems with your install. Think IKEA for this one. For toughness and level of skill needed for the install, we’d rate it a solid 2.5 out of 5. No welding is required and the system utilizes OE hardware. According to EPAS Performance, the Mopar kit is one of the easiest to install! The tools needed are pretty straight forward:
- Right angle grinder with cutting disc
- Measuring tape
- Steering wheel removal tool
- Basic hand tools to remove the steering column
Please note, you will absolutely need a manual steering box in your car to install this product. If you have a power steering box, it needs to be swapped out for a manual unit. “If you originally had a power steering car, you discard the pump, hoses and belt. Most importantly of all, you need to install a manual steering box as the hydraulic one has too much drag on it and will put extra load on the EPAS system”, says Geoff Mason from EPAS Performance.
Being as each kit varies with exact install, we will keep these quick how-to instructions to a general explanation. We will note the actual instructions that come in your kit are very detailed and explain everything right down to the millimeter. First you want to disconnect your battery. Next you want to remove your factory steering column. Once you have that out, you are ready to install your EPAS kit.
Once the steering column is disassembled, it needs to be measured and cut to the proper length needed for the install. After that, a ½-inch hole needs to be drilled to mount the electric motor that will power your steering system. The inner steering shaft will have to be cut to proper length as stated in your instruction manual. You will then need to create a 1.5” long DD on the steering shaft. For those that don’t know, a “DD” is a shape for steering shafts that is round with flats on two sides. The U-joint or adapter slips on, and its the flats that engage to keep the two pieces from spinning independently. Once that is all complete, you can re-assemble your steering column. From there, the EPAS motor is installed onto the end of your column by tightening the set screws for the steering shaft in the coupler of the motor through the hole you drilled. You then want to place the column tube in the coupler on the motor using the set screws provided in the kit to secure the column.
*Although this is not the install video for the Mopar kit, EPAS Performance does have many install videos to help with your install. One is show below;
Once that is all complete, you are ready to install the steering column back into your car. When the column is finally installed using the hardware supplied, you are ready to move onto the electrical part of the install. Once you find a convenient spot you’d like to mount the pre-wired control module, hook up the power wire for the motor and the connector for the torque sensor.
Then you hook up the small red wire to a hot in run and the #10 red wire provided directly to your battery or other direct power source. You may use a 60 amp fuse inline if you’d like. From there, the potentiometer is installed in an easily accessible location. When that is all installed, you are done. Simply turn on the power on, wait for the little click (from the relays in the module) and you are ready to enjoy your new electric power steering!
Each kit is priced at $1,450 USD and comes with everything needed for the install, including the electric motor, mounting hardware and pre-wired control module. Every kit comes with a full 5 year warranty! We look forward to installing this kit in one of the Mopars in our fleet and providing our readers with a step-by-step how to in the near future!